When the Strategic Master Plan of São Paulo (PDE) was implemented through Law 16.050/14, there was already a requirement for the Executive Branch to forward to the City Council, by the end of 2021, an intermediate review project of the PDE containing analytical evidence of what was effective and what did not fully meet the expectations of the legislation and, therefore, it would require modifications.
This revision, provided for in Article 4 of the law, is not intended to alter the main objectives and established legal bases, but to make a fine and specific adjustment in mechanisms that did not take effect as initially expected.
Although the 2014 PDE outlined objectives of innovation, social inclusion, combating socio-territorial inequality and requalification of public spaces, it is easy to see that the great density of families in the peripheric regions of São Paulo still persists, and in a latent way in the city, in addition to licensing problems and high land irregularity in these areas. There is also the difficulty of bringing the low-income population to the vicinity of the transport axes, served by wide avenues and interconnection with train and subway lines, especially in this period of pandemic.
In response to the appeal of several popular entities and the Public Prosecutor's Office, the City Hall presented, during the 66th Ordinary Meeting of the Municipal Council of Urban Policy (CMPU), held on October 28, 2021, Bill 742/21, which would initially extend the deadline for completion of the intermediate review of the PDE until December 31, 2022. The intention of leaving the adjustments to the PDE for a post-pandemic moment is to also ensure a series of requirements for the review process, with special attention to ensuring the participation of the needy and digitally excluded population in face-to-face discussions on the subject of such complexity.
After the project was processed and approved in the form of a substitute for the Legislative Power, with modifications to the initial text after debates and public hearing, the City Council, in session of December 14, 2021, decreed – and the mayor promulgated – Law 17.725/21, which extended the deadline for the Executive Branch to forward the proposed revision of the PDE until July 31, 2022.
The extension considered that public calling and interaction with civil society are key aspects to organize and intensify public participation in the review process and help adapt the EDP to the wishes and needs of the population. This public participation has been carried out since May 2021 through virtual actions, such as questionnaires, workshops, surveys and directly on the Master Plan website, but the idea is that it can be more effective in person.
During the review, it will be impossible to fail to consider the influence of the covid-19 pandemic on the results of the PDE in the period between its enactment and the present day. This is because several habits of the citizen of São Paulo were altered in this moment of social distancing, with the reorganization of the functioning of the city itself, situations that were not expected and could not have been predicted, given a picture of total atipicity caused by the disease. Moreover, it cannot be ignored that, since the entry into force of the PDE, the country is experiencing a period of low economic growth, with successive falls in gross domestic product (GDP).
The review of the PDE in these circumstances brought a new situation, which is the need to rethink the city for the resumption of economic and social development in a post-pandemic scenario. São Paulo is transforming differently. It is possible to note, for example, the increasing frequency of news of vacant commercial real estate due to the closing of business activities or the high cost of renewing leaseagreements.
In addition, with the tendency of various sectors of the economy, especially banks and technology and investment companies, to adopt remote or even hybrid work, many have been momentarily prioritizing distance work, even as a way to contain costs and expenses and prevent the spread of the virus. This change in behavior directly affects one of the main objectives of the PDE, the population density in the city's axes, whose objective is to bring housing closer to the work place.
Another point to be considered in the PDE adjustment is the stimulus to verticalization in the axes and regions of greater infrastructure, which has great interest in the real estate market. The initiative, however, faces the problem of the great price increase and sometimes the resistance of groups of residents to the impacts of the large population density.
This drive has been gradually transforming the regions of the city with the largest urban and access infrastructure, the so-called Urban Structuring Zones, but, of course, in pace and proportion lower than proposed by the PDE. Given the global economic and financial situation, what we see is the creation of increasingly smaller housing units at still very high prices and rising interest rates, when compared to those in the outskirts of the cuty or areas off-axis, which prevents direct access by a large part of the population to these properties.
In this scenario of great changes and uncertainties about the direction of the density and development of the city of São Paulo, the extension of the review deadline allows us to discuss in deep the theme and implement effective measures to adapt the PDE to the reality of the post-pandemic economic and social crisis.
It is expected that the new deadline for discussion will be sufficient for the City Hall to submit the proposal for a review already with a greater popular participation. With the advance of vaccination against covid-19, it will probably be possible to hold debates and hearings in a safe environment and participatory way and obtain contributions to improve the process and effective achievement of the objectives of the law.